Book Review: ‘Through the Broken Glass’ by T.N. Seshan

A Fearless Revolution in Indian Elections


Book Title: Through the Broken Glass: A Fearless Journey of Electoral Reforms
Author: T.N. Seshan
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 978-9357021968
Date Published: Jun. 05, 2023
Price: INR 598

Through the Broken Glass by T. N. Seshan Book Cover

Book Review

Through the Broken Glass: A Fearless Journey of Electoral Reforms” unfolds the remarkable story of “T.N. Seshan”, an unwavering force who fearlessly fought to reshape India’s electoral landscape. Seshan pulls no punches in this captivating autobiography, boldly recounting his struggles while spearheading a transformative era of change. His unyielding resolve and unapologetic demeanor caught even the Union governments off guard, leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s history. The book is divided into 23 chapters that start with his birth. What is more fascinating is the simple language in which the book is written. The footnotes in some chapters are helpful too.

Born in Palakkad, Kerala, in 1932, Seshan commenced his career as a member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1955. He held prominent positions, including District Collector of Madurai and Secretary to the Atomic Energy Commission, before assuming the role of Chief Election Commissioner in 1990. While Seshan’s reforms encountered criticism from certain quarters, his supporters maintained that his actions were necessary to rectify Indian politics and ensure a fair electoral framework.

T.N. Seshan, serving as the Chief Election Commissioner of India from 1990 to 1996, implemented crucial reforms that revolutionized the fairness and integrity of Indian elections. His notable achievements during his tenure include the introduction of photo voter I.D. cards, the prohibition of money and alcohol in elections, the establishment of the model code of conduct for political parties, and the reinforcement of the Election Commission’s authority. Despite facing resistance from some politicians, Seshan successfully transformed the electoral landscape of India, contributing to the cleanup of politics and fostering transparency and accountability in the electoral process.

The lasting impact of Seshan’s reforms on Indian elections cannot be overstated. Instances of booth capturing significantly decreased by 80%, and the involvement of money and alcohol in elections was notably curtailed. Thanks to Seshan’s efforts, the Election Commission emerged as a more independent and reputable institution. His legacy endures as a stalwart advocate for free and fair elections in India, securing his place as one of the most influential figures in the country’s electoral history. This is all articulately mentioned in his biography.
This thought-provoking and inspiring memoir is a testament to Seshan’s unwavering determination and spirit.

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Through the Broken Glass” chronicles the gripping tale of an individual who fearlessly embarked on a solitary battle to orchestrate a monumental shift in the Indian electoral system. Seshan’s journey, vividly depicted in these pages, is a powerful testament to the resilience and fortitude required to challenge the status quo. This compelling autobiography is a source of inspiration for all those who believe in the transformative power of an individual’s unwavering commitment to bringing about systemic change.

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